Parliament to fast-track Budget debate. On Tuesday, Finance and Economic Development Deputy Minister Clemence Chiduwa moved for the suspension of some procedural requirements that should ordinarily be followed.

The National Assembly has agreed to fast-track debate on the $927 billion 2022 National Budget which was presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube last month to ensure that it sails at the earliest possible time.

Some of the requirements that Parliament adopted was the suspension of automatic adjournment at 6.55pm, the requirement of referral of a Bill to the Parliamentary Legal Committee and allowing for the sitting of the House on Friday should the need arise.

The motion by Deputy Minister Chiduwa to suspend some procedural requirements in respect of debate on the 2022 National Budget was made in terms of Parliament’s Standing Orders.

Soon after Parliament adopted Deputy Minister Chiduwa ’s motion, debate on the National Budget resumed with chairpersons of different portfolio committees tabling their reports.

Debate continued yesterday with portfolio committee chairpersons tabling reports for allocations of Ministries they overshadow with Minister Ncube listening. Most of the reports bemoaned inadequate allocation of financial resources to various Government ministries and departments.

In its contribution, Parliament’s portfolio committee on Budget and Finance felt that the US$50 tax on mobile phones that Treasury intended to introduce defeated the thrust to embrace digital economy.

The committee chaired by Buhera Central MP Cde Mathew Nyashanu (Zanu-PF) said the new tax will merely be passed to consumers. “The Committee feels that the proposal defeats the whole purpose of encouraging use of ICTs especially in schools in view of Covid-19, in addition to the tax being administratively complex to manage.

“The new tax will be passed onto consumers, thus pushing the price of cellphones up and creating remittance nightmares for Mobile Network Operators. The Minister failed to recognise differences in value of cell phones and applied a blanket rate.

“The Committee recommends that the levy be scrapped to encourage use of ICTs and Government can recoup this forgone tax from increased use of cellphones on airtime levy and IMTT,” said Cde Nyashanu. He said Treasury was making unilateral utilisation of the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights without consulting them as agreed.

“The Committee calls upon the Minister of Finance to consult Parliament in the utilisation of the SDRs set aside as contingency reserves. Moreover, the Committee calls upon the Auditor General to thoroughly audit the utilisation of the SDRs,” he said.

The Portfolio committee on Local Government and Public Works implored Treasury to adequately fund the chiefs council so that it has its own secretariat as well as provide funding to devolution in order to give impetus to it.

“The Committee recommends that: Treasury should allocate 5 percent of the budget to devolution in line with the Constitution. “The continued violation of the Constitution is unacceptable. Furthermore, the Devolution Bill must be brought before Parliament as a matter of urgency,” said the committee chairperson Cde Miriam Chikukwa.

Hatfield MP and MDC-T senior party member, Dr Tapiwa Mashakada, MDC-T said the growth target of 5,5 percent was encouraging.

“If we are going to stimulate the economy, even under the challenges of Covid-19, stimulate the mining sector, stimulate the agricultural sector, manufacturing and tourism and all other growth enablers so that we can meet the 5,5 percent target.

“I think this is going to benefit the country. I hope that the 5,5 percent growth that we are talking of is not only growth per se. It must be inclusive to growth,” said Dr Mashakada.